Mobile Phone Marketing – Using America’s Texting Obsession To Help Grow Your Practice!

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There’s no doubt that the mobile phone has become an essential part of everyday life. In fact, ask almost any adult American what items, other than clothes, that they never leave home without and you will get the following three answers:

1. Their Keys

2. Their Wallet

3. Their Cell Phone

So what has this got to do with finding new clients for your veterinary practice?

Well the most important takeaway from these answers is that people never leave home without their cell phone. Why? Because that cell phone allows your practice to communicate with them at virtually any time of your choosing!

Consider this…on average, mobile phone users have their phone in their possession for sixteen hours per day!

According to Pew research:

  • 94% of American consumers ages 16+ have a cell phone.
  • 62% of American adults have a Smartphone
  • 67% of cell owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating.
  • 44% of cell owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls, text messages, or other updates during the night!
  • 29% of cell owners describe their cell phone as “something they can’t imagine living without.”

So as you can see if you are looking for media to get your message out to pet owners then the mobile phone is a compelling candidate. After all, in marketing ideally you want your message to be seen in isolation from your competitors and the marketing messages from other companies. The mobile phone provides the perfect media because your message can get to your prospects wherever they are and without competition from other advertisers.

People Don’t Talk, They Text!

Another factor to consider is how mobile phones are used today, as the facts are that most people text more than they talk. Figures from Nielsen show that in 2012, the average US mobile subscriber sent or received 764 text messages per month but made just 164 calls.

This is not surprising when you consider that between 2009 and 2011 voice minutes used by American females went down by 12 percent while during the same time period the number of text messages they sent and received went up by 35 percent!  Of course, we are highlighting females because they are the biggest demographic for veterinary clinics.

Why Use Texts And Not Email?

So if Americans are so obsessed with texting doesn’t it make sense that texting would be a good platform for marketing. If you’re still not convinced then consider the statistics when you compare text message to emails.

For instance the average email deliverable rate is just 84%. In other words for every 100 emails sent only 84 actually arrive in the Inbox of the recipient. Compare this to a text message which has virtually a 100% deliverable rate. Let’s face it unless your recipients phone is permanently switched off then your text is going to get there.

Now consider the average open rates of emails compared to texts. The open rate for emails is extremely poor with the industry average being around only 20%. On the other hand the open rate for text messages is a staggering 99%.

So if you send 100 emails only 20 are likely to be opened by the recipients whereas if you send 100 text messages as many as 99 are likely to be opened.

Finally let’s look at the time taken to read emails and text messages. It is hard to quantify how quickly emails are opened but as a busy veterinarian you will know that emails can sit in your inbox for days before you can get round to them. However, the average time taken to open text messages is less than three minutes!

The time you take to open texts be longer because as a veterinarian you may not have your cell phone with you in the exam room or operating theater but for most of your clients and prospective clients this figure is likely to be true.

How To Use Texting In Your Veterinary Clinic

With these statistics in mind, how can you actually use texting for the benefit of your veterinary practice? Well the first thing to point out is that any texts you send need to be accepted as a welcome guest rather than an unwelcome pest. Just as with email, you do not want to be involved in sending the texting equivalent of email SPAM (i.e. junk mail.) So with that in mind here are just five practical ways to use texting in your practice:

1. Appointment Reminders

Considering that only 20% of your email reminders are likely to be seen by your clients wouldn’t it be more beneficial to your practice to send your reminders by text? It would seem logical that if 99% of your reminders are going to be seen by your clients, and that’s within three minutes of you sending them, that the number of annual wellness exams you do will increase.

Just as with email reminders, texts could be sent prior to the appointment date and then at intervals after the appoint date was due. Of course, if you want your reminder system to be really effective then you would send out a combination of text messages, emails and post cards. By mixing your media you are making sure that your clients understand the importance of the appointment for their pet and giving yourself peace of mind that they received your reminder.

As well as annual reminders you can also use texting for reminding clients of appointments they have made, either for wellness exams or treatment appointments such as follow ups, dental cleanings etc.

2. Appointment Confirmations

Along the same theme, text messages are also good for ensuring clients who have made appointments actually turn up for them. So on the last business day before their appointment you can text them to confirm they are coming for their appointment.

3.   Alerts

As the chosen healthcare provider for your clients pets there are no doubt times when you want to alert your clients to potential dangers. For example, you may want to warn them about food and treat recalls or about dangers specific to your area such as an outbreak of canine influenza. Again the advantage of texting over email here is that you can get to more pet owner in less time, which could be critical in cases of infectious disease.

There’s no doubt that your clients will thank you for the information if it helps keep their pet safe. Going back to our article on the front page of this newsletter, prospective clients who have opted to receive your texts will also be thankful and will remember you when the time comes for their pets annual wellness exam. If you are giving them free information to protect their pet that they are not getting from their current veterinary clinic then they may just consider switching to your practice.

4. Notifications

As well as important health alerts there may be other important but not critical notices you need to get out to your clients such as letting them know what hours your practice will be open during holidays or that you will be closed for a half day for staff training. You may also want to let them know about a new service you are offering or about a new specialist doctor that has joined your practice.

5. Marketing

Of course, one of the best ways to utilize texting is to attract new clients and to ethically get your existing clients to spend more money with your practice. So you may want to create special offers and promotions that you can deliver by text.

Of course the benefits of sending your offer by text are that, providing they are compelling enough, you can send a text and have clients calling to book appointments within minutes.

Keys To Being A Welcome Guest

As we implied earlier texting only works if the texts you send are actually welcome by the people you send them to. There are three keys to being a welcome guest:

1. Ask For An Invite

In order to start sending texts to your clients and prospects they need to invite you first by subscribing to your texting service. Never ever send text messages to people who have not opted into your service.

2. Limit The Number Of Texts You Send

Once they have opted into your text messaging service then you must be careful to limit the number of texts you send them. If you bombard them with texts they will get sick very quickly and all you will do is upset them. We suggest just sending one or two texts per month plus occasional extras such as health alerts and appointment reminders.

3. Only Send Helpful Texts

The final tip is to only send them information they will actually find helpful and useful. For example, useful tips about caring for their pet and compelling offers that are only available to text subscribers. They need to see your texts as a benefit and not as an annoyance.

How Text Marketing Works

Text marketing may seem complicated but it is actually fairly simple. The first thing to point out is that the actual sending of the texts is handled by a third party text messaging system. You do not have to have one of your team sitting all day sending text messages! Here’s how it works:

1. You advertise a compelling reason for prospects and clients to sign up. For example, ’Free Dental Exam For Your Pooch When You Join Our Mobile VIP Club.’

2. You give them a keyword to text and a number to text it to. For example, ‘Text POOCH To 33733.’

3. They opt-in by sending the text.

4. You send them messages until they choose to opt-out.

At the bottom of page 8 you can see an example of how this might be advertised. The image above shows what the pet owner would  receive on their phone once they had subscribed. Note how in both the advert and the confirmation text the recipient is informed as to how man text messages they can expect to receive. Also note how the subscriber is given the option to opt-out at any time by texting the word STOP to the number provided.

Want To Use Texting In Your Practice?

If used properly texting can be a powerful marketing tool for your practice. It gets your message directly into the hands of your clients and prospective clients in a format that they are very comfortable with. It also gets it to them very quickly, therefore allowing them to respond very quickly.

If you would like to use text marketing in your practice then you  must first find a good text messaging service. Of course, our Veterinary Marketing Toolkit includes a whole module on Mobile Marketing together with resources you can use.


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